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Custody evaluations can be a high-risk practice. Very frequently someone will be dissatisfied, leading to possible disciplinary complaints. Practitioners, therefore, would be wise to take the following precautions when doing custody evaluations:

  • Ensure that you are knowledgeable in the competencies needed to perform custody evaluations and be able to document these competencies; it would be useful to consult the Guidelines for Child Custody Evaluations published by the Department in 1997.
  • Keep complete records of the entire process.
  • Secure a signed agreement in advance that clarifies and spells out the arrangements for the evaluation, such as:
    • Financial arrangements
    • Who will be seen and number of contacts
    • Overall limits of confidentiality
    • Time frame for the evaluation, including the report
    • Who will get copies of the reports, and who is entitled to the report
    • The fact that the report is only a recommendation
  • Limit the report to supportable data
  • Substantiate the source of data for all comments that are made
  • Inform the client of the specific limits to confidentiality when doing a custody evaluation.